I realise that I haven’t written anything on this blog for over a year. So… if anyone is still following here is a brief reflection for Christmas:

Advent is a time of waiting, of anticipation for Christians of the birth of Christ, one of the most important Holy-Days in the Christian year. This feast of Christmas has also today become a thoroughly commercialised and advertised feast of consumption. For many shops and producers it is the season in which they are looking forward to making up to half of their annual revenue. It is also of course a time for family and friends to meet and celebrate, whether motivated by their Christian faith or not.

When I first started to work in this field of homelessness in 1992 I remember very well my first Christmas. I was working in the job club at the Passage Day Centre in Victoria, where we provided advice and support to centre users to find employment and training opportunities, and sometimes voluntary work. My colleagues and I bought cigars and chocolate to give to our job club regulars, as a small sign of our care for them, and knowing that some would not have a great deal to look forward to in the way of presents. As one of them was leaving I wished him a “Happy Christmas”. He turned and said to me: “Actually mate, you can keep Christmas. It is a complete nightmare to be on the streets and away from my family.” I’m not ashamed to say that his comment hit me hard. From then on I always tried to be more tuned in to the needs and circumstances of those we were serving, I can tell you.

It’s not so unusual these days for people to acknowledge the pressures of Christmas. Many people get in touch in search of volunteering opportunities because it gives them something to do – a larger purpose or an antidote to the perfect Christmas as it is presented in all the advertising.

Whatever your situation, circumstances, relationships or finances I pray that you may know the blessing of this holy season – the hope made known to us through that child born to an unmarried, refugee mother in an occupied land, the child who changed history on that first Christmas:

This night is born Jesus,

Son of the King of Glory

This night is born to us

the root of our joy.

This night gleamed sea and shore together.

This night was born Christ,

the King of Greatness

from the Christmas liturgy, Celtic Daily Prayer (Collins 2005)

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